Volun-tourism is the combination of Travel and Volunteering. I first heard about the idea in 2006, and in 2007 I spent two weeks working with residents of a small town in Costa Rica. I highly recommend this type of trip to anyone interested in either of these activities. Everything about my trip was wonderful:
- Working with the local residents
- Getting to know the other 16 US volunteers
- The on-site program coordinator
- Our excursions after work and on weekends
- The food
So I planned another trip with this group in 2010 for two weeks in India. Due to reasons never explained to me, this trip did not meet my expectations. This may have been a result of reduced volunteers, but I suspect it’s mostly related to this one program leader and his way of running the group in India. So now I’m searching for a new group to volunteer with next year. Here is a good list of programs to consider.
Many programs are accommodating to families. You might assume that there is a reduced fee due to the time and effort you are contributing, but with these programs their primary funding comes from the volunteers. Although the cost is tax exempt, and you can fund-raise for the expenses, it’s not necessarily a way to take a cheap vacation.